Panting for God

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Have you ever run a marathon? Have you ever thirst for water in the heat of the sun? How was it like to be panting for water? To pant is to breathe quickly and hard in a laboured manner – like a dog sticking out his tongue with mouth wide open.

The psalmist speaks of the deer panting for water. Why does a deer pant? Panting is how deers cool down when they’re hot. We all get hot when we’re thirsty.

Deer have very few sweat glands, panting is heat exchange in place of the cooling system more sweat glands would offer,
When we pant, our breath is hot—hot enough to make clouds in winter air. Many animals get rid of excess body heat by breathing rapidly—by panting.

To pant as if you cannot get enough air to cool down… to get rid of the heat in your body after a strenuous exercise. To pant is to long eagerly for something.

In psalm 42, the psalmist likens his yearning for God to a deer panting for water. His inner being is thirsty for God. He is grieving and in need of comfort. Read and imagine how a desperate person quench his need for comfort, hope and presence of God.

Psalm 42

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

4 These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
(It is good to remember… to recall the days of joy and praise.)

5 Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
(When you are down in the pit, counsel yourself – ask and answer – why are you sad? Hope in God – don’t give up. Praise Him for his presence – his present help, his helpful presence.)

6 O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
8 The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.
(Remember the good old days, remember God’s lovingkindness to you)

9 I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
(God seems to be missing. His seemingly absence causes us to be sad. It’s ok to acknowledge the sadness.)

11 Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
(Continue to hope… counter your despair with praise… quench your thirst in hope – read His Word, remember His promises and respond in praise and prayer.)

Do you pant for God as the deer pants for cool clear water? Do you spend time in prayer and reading his Word? Do you long for God’s presence? Are you in despair, my friend? Let the psalms comfort you and teach you to pray and praise. Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him. He is my help and my God.

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